Public XML and Automating Oracle Insbridge Development
Here at Second Phase, we're constantly trying to find ways to make life easier for customers using the Oracle Insbridge product. One feature we're currently very interested in is Public XML.
What is Public XML?
The earliest reference I can find to Public XML is in version 4.6.1, which was released by Oracle in 2012. From the release notes:
Public XML allows users to upload a single program created in an outside source using standard XML format...
Whoa, wait a second. So there's an XML format that allows you to upload a program without having to manually create it in RateManager? Yep, that's pretty much what Public XML does.
The XML format closely resembles any program you would develop manually. Categories, algorithms, tables, inputs, outputs, and more are all defined in the Public XML format. All you have to do is create the XML, import it, and you have a program that is immediately usable.
How is Second Phase using it?
As part of our design process, we create documentation in Excel called a Build Design Document (or BDD). This documentation serves alot of different purposes, but it mostly keeps us organized when we're ready to start building out complex rating logic in RateManager. Corey's written up a post explaining the merits of BDD's - click here to check it out.
We have a tool that translates our BDD content into Public XML, which we can then import into RateManager. This relatively automated process of BDD-to-Public XML saves an incredible amount of time when developing new programs in Oracle Insbridge. For example... A program that may take 3-4 weeks to develop with a crew of 2-3 people can literally take only days with 1-2 resources. In the world of insurance where speed-to-market and cost-cutting are key focus areas, that is a pretty significant improvement!
Are there any limitations with Public XML?
Unfortunately, there's a few. Certain step types aren't supported, program-to-program (P2P) callouts still have to be manually configured, and there are a couple of other miscellaneous nuances.
Some of you may be wondering if Public XML can be used for rate maintenance. The short answer is 'not at the moment.' There doesn't appear to be any way to create new versions of programs using Public XML.
Oracle's also been slow to keep Public XML up-to-date - in their defense, it's not a feature that customers are using. As of version 5.5, Public XML is supported but the XML format still resembles the program heirarchy of 4.x. This doesn't make Public XML entirely unusable though, as we've been able to import Public XML successfully using 5.5.
These limitations aren't enough to completely disregard the functionality. If Public XML can create 75% of a program automatically, you should take that time and cost savings every day.
Public XML is a valuable tool that we don't feel alot of customers are aware of. While it mostly helps with initial program development instead of maintenance, it is still a valuable tool for those trying to automate a portion of the rating development in Oracle Insbridge. If you have any questions about Public XML, reach out to us! We'd be happy to talk through it and figure out how it might fit your needs.